East Lancs Road Club road race, 20th May

by Ste Feeney

After missing last week’s Bashall Eaves event ( the West Pennine RC road race) because of a lingering cough, I was back in action this week for the latest Bashall Eaves offering, this time on the ‘long’ circuit. There had been much speculation through the preceding week about whether the ‘long’ course would be used. Social media was awash with rumours * concerning roadworks and the deteriorating condition of the roads.

If the intended course was considered dangerous then the race would most likely switch to the short circuit. Not as spectacular or challenging as the long course but still tough! However, the rumours proved without merit and we would have the pleasure of 5 full laps of the 11 mile ‘Bashall Long’ course.

We were treated with glorious weather conditions but the prospect of a hard race in hot and sunny conditions worried Team Chronomaster’s serial cramp sufferer Craig Battersby. He’d brought along a bottle of salty drink to consume pre race and some special recipe ‘salty malt bread’, which quite frankly looked as awful as it sounds” along with a selection of salted goods. He’d even put extra salt on the salt he’d used to prepare his delicacies!!

Also riding for the team were Tom Hanlon, Adam Baines and Warren Gell. There were 2 events on Bashall ‘long’. Last year and they produced very different races! The first, the East Lancashire RC event in May, had ended up with a mass bunch sprint despite being a tough race. The second, which Team Chronomaster had organised, turned out to be a complete smash up with riders strewn all over the course and a small group contesting the win! I wondered whether this race would mirror one of these previous editions and it didn’t take long for me to realise it would. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the ‘smash up’ variety witnessed in our event! As soon as the race began the Team Crimson boys got to the front and set a fast pace. Craig and I suddenly realised why they’d been warming up on rollers an hour before the race started!

All their riders seemed to be getting stuck in to the pace setting, and undoubtedly tiring themselves in the process, and I did struggle to work out their precise tactic here. They did succeed in reducing the bunch to a front group of some 20 or so riders after just one lap but, with a lot of strong riders still in the group, I didn’t think they’d reduce it by many more. Adam, Tom and Craig were still in the front group and looked strong. I was also there and felt pretty good too.

As we started the 2nd lap there was a crash in the front group. A couple of riders seemed to get tangled up and went down. I was one of a couple of riders that were unable to take evasive action to avoid them and also got mixed up in the crash. Fortunately for me, I didn’t fall heavily and my bike was OK so I just grabbed it, got back on and went after the front group, they were still just in sight! For a moment I hoped they would realise what had happened and, in a moment of gentlemanly sporting conduct, slow down and let those held up by the crash catch up. Unfortunately, this did not happen so I had to dig deep and hope the group eased off.

As I chased I could see the group wasn’t slowing down, when I got near I could see attacks going off the front of the group and hoped this wouldn’t be terminal to my pursuit. Fortunately, it wasn’t and after a few miles I was back in the group. Having burnt a few matches in the chase I thought I’d sit in and have a ‘rest’ before reviewing my race tactics.

Indeed, with the Crimson boys still marking every move, attacking seemed a little futile anyway at this point. Just after catching the bunch I heard and felt a large crunching noise. We’d had this all race as we’d crashed through the pot hole ridden tarmac but this one was different. My seat post had dropped down, by some 2 inches I later measured, and my seat was now too low! Not ‘comedy’ low with my knees round my ears when I pedalled but low enough to notice! My seat post had been fine for 2 months so I wondered why it slipped now. Could it be the terrible roads? For a moment I even questioned my own mechanical skills but soon realised that this obviously couldn’t be the cause. One simply doesn’t see the words ‘mechanical failure due to shoddy work’ and ‘Stephen Feeney’ in the same sentence!! I decided the seat expander bung had been jolted by the crash and caused the issue (reputation for top class bicycle maintenance preserved 😊)

As the laps passed by, attacks were neutralised. That is until with a lap or so remaining, Hayden Allan of THRE Datawolves got clear and stayed clear to take a fine sole win.

On the last lap Tom put in a big shift up the draggy Bashall climb, this further reduced the front group but didn’t bring back the leader. Craig tried to break things up on the final climb and piled on the pressure  (despite cramping up the previous lap) but couldn’t get clear. So, what was left of the bunch, 21 riders, contested the sprint for 2nd. I managed to finish 4th in the sprint for 5th overall, Tom was just behind me in 7th. Craig also finished in the group.

 

After getting back home I checked my bike for damage and was delighted to note that it was completely unscathed! The excellent direct mount brakes had wiped off sufficient speed to make it a low speed crash (even lower than my normal speed!) and the bike may have had a soft landing (on a fallen rider 😬) On a serious note, I hope the riders involved in the crash are ok and make a quick recovery.

I’d like to thank the organiser, Dave Trippier, and his East Lancashire Road club helpers, and all other helpers , officials, marshals, etc…for putting on a great event (again)

 

I’d also like to thank Ellen Isherwood for more fantastic race photos! After recently racing away from the North West and being disappointed by the lack of race photos, it reminded me just how lucky we are to have Ellen attend our events and give so freely of her time and talents! Thanks Ellen 😘.

 

 

 

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John Gordon Memorial Road Race – Report

By Jonathan Fowles.

Often when I turn up to a race there might be the odd domestic pro, they’re pretty fast and often ride off and win the race. Sunday was another step up when World Tour rider from Team Sunweb, Michael Storer, turned up to race the John Gordon Memorial in Scotland along side me.

The Scottish races have amazing courses and this was no exception, with a 10km out leg before 4 large laps of varied terrain, including rolling climbs and tough cross wind sections. The race then retraces the initial 10km to finish up a short but draggy incline.

I managed to get right on the bumper of the lead car as the race rolled out in the neutral zone (alongside Storer), and as the race was de-neutralised we both attacked. I now realise why he’s a world tour rider. His pace was just relentless and he sustained it for a long time. Longer than I could anyway! Despite the peloton being strung out, we were brought back, but he immediately attacked again, and I decided to save my beans. This attacking continued for almost the entire out leg of the race until finally, Michael and 3 other riders managed to break clear.

The pace settled a little after they’d gone, but then the attacks started again. A few initial moves came back and I made my own attacks, but these were also brought back in, and annoyingly on the first lap a group of about 10 riders got away just as I had been brought back. I sat in the peloton and bided my time. As we approached the end of the first lap, I managed to attack out of a corner into an incline and get away from the peloton. Along the way I collected Richard Jones (Ribble Pro Cycling) and another rider, and the 3 of us set about bridging across to the group up the road. I was determined to get across, and ended up doing the longest and hardest turns. We were within about 100m, and I started to vomit in my mouth a little bit (disgusting I know), but with help from the other two, we made it.

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Now we had a group of around 12 riders (including Si Wilson of Ribble and Will Corden of Velo Runner who I’m pretty familiar with from racing) , and Storer +3 riders were less than a minute up the road. This should have been an easy catch…unfortunately, it was not. We had more than enough firepower, but besides about 4 of us, nobody wanted to put any work in. This was hugely frustrating!!

For 2 laps this disarray continued, and all the while Storer and his pals sailed off up the road. Every now and then myself, Will, Si or Richard (or some of the other riders in the group) would attack to try and shed the dead weight. Every time the sandbaggers on the back would bring it back together! The entire last lap just consisted of attack after attack, the only benefit of which was to whittle the group down to 7 or so riders (we also went past one of the original escapees, leaving only 3 up the road). Our chances of getting the win had evaporated.

On the return leg, I knew my legs were pretty tired from all the efforts I’d been making, but the finish was an uphill drag and I thought at least I might be able to have a blast at a (long) sprint. I decided to stay near the front and just keep on the wheel of any attacks, but not try to burn any matches. Richard managed to get away, and get a good gap… so I was now racing for 4th. As we hit the final left turn onto the drag I attacked as hard as I could….. I got a pretty decent gap on everyone but my legs started to fade. I saw Si closing in, and I knew I was doomed. A few more riders came past and I sat back down, crossing the line in 8th or 9th (?). Plan failed. Note to self, work out how to end races properly.

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Storer won (of course), and I enjoyed the opportunity to see how a World Tour pro can ride. I just hope I don’t bump into him in any more Nat B’s.

 

Credit to The Press Room for the photos. Thanks.

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LVRC Tour of the Abberleys 2018

By Stephen Feeney.

The Tour of the Abberleys is an LVRC (League of Veteran Racing Cyclists) 3 day, 4 stage race that has built up a reputation as one of the most prestigious races on the LVRC race calendar in the last few years.

This was, of course, the main cycling event of the bank holiday weekend in the country. There was a minor stage race taking place in Yorkshire but you’d be excused for missing that as the media hype and TV coverage focused on ‘The Abberleys ‘

The folk that regularly read our race reports (I believe a few do!) will know that the team, and particularly Craig Battersby, have performed consistently well in this race over the years. Craig has won the event overall for the last 2 editions picking up various stage wins along the way. Team mate Kris Zentek as also won stages and worn the yellow jersey in previous editions.

This year, having been told the various courses would suit me and also having been tempted after reading about previous editions, I thought I’d give it a bash.

Joining me in the Chronomaster team were defending champion Craig, new recruit Tony Greenhalgh, a former stage winner in the event, and Abberleys regular John Bamford. Daz Acton of Tactic UK, our friend and training partner, was also joining us for the weekend. John had found a lovely cottage for us all for the weekend, just a few miles from the event headquarters.

As the name of the event suggests, the race was only open to veteran riders (over 40’s) there were 2 races, one for 40-50 year olds and another for the over 50’s. We would all be competing in the 40-50 race.

Stage 1

The first stage was an 11km individual time trial, much longer than the opening stage in previous editions, and it threatened to produce some significant time gaps at a very early stage of the race.

My feeling was that it was perhaps not worth being overly concerned with the result. If we managed to do good times then it would just put us on the list of watched riders for the rest of the race. If we finished down the results, this might give us more chance of breaking clear on the following road stages.

In any event, there’s only one way to ride a time trial, push hard and try and keep going until the end! Then keep your fingers crossed when the results start coming through!

The hilly route was clearly to Craig’s liking, he recorded the fastest time of 17 mins and 49 seconds. Mine too, I was joint second just 4 seconds behind (later promoted to outright 2nd by fractions of a second). Tony, Daz and John also posted good times of 18:36, 19:18 & 19:55 respectively.

Craig would start Stage 2 in the leaders yellow jersey.

Here is a link to my ‘Strava’ file for the time trial is below (including very slow ride from the end of the TT back to the HQ) https://www.strava.com/activities/1550824985

The full result from the opening time trial is below…

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Stage 2

This consisted of a 42 mile road race which took place just an hour or so after the opening time trial had finished. We were to cover 3 laps of the rolling ‘Astley’ circuit. Craig started in yellow and expected to be heavily marked. Unfortunately, he was correct!

I too was heavily marked and a couple of early attempted breakaways were quickly neutralised. However, the bunch and main contenders seemed happy to allow a large group containing some dangerous riders to get clear and quickly establish a big lead!

Craig seemed to accept that Stage 1 would prevail in this way with a front group gaining an advantage of a minute or so but the pace of the bunch had become so pedestrian that I was concerned that they could be building an unassailable time advantage.

Over the next lap or so I tried joining a few attempts to break clear of the bunch, which seemed to reduce the riders in the main bunch considerably. I finally managed to break clear after joining Daz, Manchester Bicycle Club’s Simon Bridge, Element RT’s Andy Turner, and Michael Clark and Steve Lee from Team Wheelguru. We quickly formed a good working alliance and pulled clear of what was left of the bunch.

Shorty afterwards we were joined by Mark Corbett, Worcester St Johns CC. Mark had recorded the same time as me in the earlier TT and pushed Craig hard for the win the previous year. We eventually hauled in all but one of the front group with just a couple of miles of the stage to go and as the junction was made Mark attacked. I joined him and we managed to get away from the rest of the break.

Adrian Lawson, Latchem Sunwise RT, took the stage 29 seconds ahead of Mark and I (I took the sprint for 2nd place) with the remnants of the break some 25 seconds further back.

Here is my strava file for the race https://www.strava.com/activities/1551367842

The bunch containing Craig, Tony, John and Daz (who had cramped up when in the chase group) finished some 5 minutes later meaning Craig had lost his Yellow jersey (to me 😳) and had lost a lot of time on some strong rivals .

Here is the general classification after day 1 and the stage 2 result…

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However, during the post race analysis, we decided that there was no reason similar time gaps could not occur on any of the remaining stages and there was still plenty for us all to race for!

That evening we dined ‘al Fresco’ enjoying the lovely sunshine and scenery, if not the frozen/reheated culinary offerings. There was also a problem with the Guinness pump so my usual recovery drink was substituted by a flavoursome local ale!

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Later that night I caused some concern for my room mate Tony. After getting up in the night for the first of my toilet visits (I am a man of a certain age with associated bladder issues and a chain tea drinking habit) Tony noticed I was out of the room, fumbling around on the landing area, for a considerable time. He thought I was sleep walking and didn’t want to disturb me.

The reality is probably worse! Our cottage was in a remote, rural location. There were no street lights or light pollution. I’d managed to find the bathroom as the door was open and the window beyond it offered a faint guiding light. However, when heading away from the bathroom, with no such guiding light, I was faced with nothing but blackness and a distinct lack of familiarity with the landing area I was trying to navigate. Us ‘townies’ are not used to this darkness.  I’d experienced this before when staying with a friend on the Atlantic coast of county Mayo, Ireland.

I could only think it must have been like a visit to the ‘Very Dark Caves’ on Craggy Island. After feeling my way around the walls and furniture (completing several laps of the landing area) I eventually managed to find my bedroom!

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Stage 3

Today’s stage was the longest of the race. 5 x 11 mile laps of the ‘Hill Side’ circuit. A lumpy route with a climb of around a mile to the finish line. The winner of the stage would also receive the Ramon Minovi Memorial race trophy.

I started the day in the yellow jersey as overall leader and was concerned that I would also fall victim of its curse!

The attacks began immediately. I tried to get in a couple of moves but I was being well watched. Eventually, after around 5 miles or so a break managed to get clear containing Craig. There was some hesitation in the bunch and he and his breakaway companion suddenly had a large gap. Unfortunately for me, Craig’s breakaway companion was Adrian Lawson. He was in 3rd place overall and a strong contender for the overall win.

The bunch was grinding to a halt and in no time Craig and Adrian were out of sight. I thought it would be a good idea to try and get across to them but didn’t want to drag the whole bunch along.

I tried joining a couple of counter attacks but they never got clear of the bunch. At the bottom of the main climb, after some 11 miles, I decided to try and get clear again. This time there was no immediate reaction as I drifted off the front of the bunch so I put my head down and drove on. I caught Phil Whiteley of Worcester St Johns CC, who had got clear just before the climb, and we started working together to get clear of the bunch. After a few miles, Phil’s teammate Mark Corbett joined us. We were clear of the bunch and we had a 3 man group.

Mark was effectively joint overall leader with me and was clearly willing to help make our escape stick. We formed a fine working alliance as we settled into our pursuit but the leaders remained out of sight and time checks were scarce.

With some 30 miles of the race covered we could finally see Craig and Adrian. As we caught them we now had a lead group of 5. Craig told me he was going to try and take maximum King of the mountains points on the remaining climbs (the king of the mountains competition – KOM – had begun today with 5,3 & 2 points being awarded to the first 3 riders across the top of the hill on every lap). He’d already taken maximum points by crossing the line first on the previous 2 laps.

A few miles into the penultimate lap Mark punctured and with no neutral service vehicle near, his race was over. I felt sorry for Mark after putting in so much work on the stage but realised that his misfortune took a serious contender out of the reckoning. With Mark puncturing, Phil stopped working. Fortunately, Adrian was still willing to ride and we shared the work for the rest of the stage.

With a couple of miles of the stage remaining i decided to drop to the back of the group just to have a little rest before the final climb to the finish, where it seemed that the 4 of us would be fighting for the victory.

Phil hit the front and led us to the climb. Phil had been battling Craig for KOM points and so needed watching at the finish. As we turned onto the climb we were all being very cagey.

We rolled along with nobody really willing to take up the race until we hit the steep section a few hundred meters from the line when suddenly Adrian started his sprint. I tucked in behind him as he put in a determined dash for the line and hung on wondering when to try and get past him and whether my legs would be up to it!

With around 50 meters to go I could sense Adrian tiring, I managed to sprint past him to take the stage. Craig came in 11 seconds behind and Phil was another 10 seconds back in 4th. Next man to the finish was our own Tony, 2 minutes behind after a long solo chase. The rest of the field came in over many minutes and split all over the place!

I was delighted to have avoided the curse of the yellow jersey and also take the stage victory while wearing it, especially after such a hard race.  I’d also taken the Ramin Minovi Memorial Road Race trophy.

It had been a good day for the team. Craig took the lead in the KOM competition and moved up the overall classification and Tony had finished 5th and also leapfrogged up the overall classification.

Here is my strava file for the stage https://www.strava.com/activities/1553208207

Here is the stage result and general classification after stage Stage 3…

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Tonight’s curry, at The Lamb, Cleobury Mortimer, was most pleasant if not a little on the hot side for some!

 

Stage 4

The 4th and final stage is the shortest but covers the toughest terrain.

The first part of the race was a flattish, 20 mile loop away from and back to the HQ. Then there were 2 further laps of a 9 mile route. The 9 mile loop included 3 main climbs, the hardest being ‘Fetterlocks’ which had 17% ramps to contend with.

I’d started the day as overall leader with a slender 13 second lead over the 2nd place rider Adrian Lawson, and 1 minute 40 seconds ahead of Phil Whiteley in 3rd. The 4th placed rider was almost 5 minutes back so I decided to focus my attention on those 2.

Craig started the day in the KOM jersey.

The attacks began as soon as the race started and a group of 6 or so riders, including Tony, soon got clear. With none of the main contenders for the overall prize amongst the escapees the bunch seemed happy to let them get clear.

The pace in the main group was sedate and when we reached the end of the 20 mile loop the break was almost 5 minutes clear! Craig could sense my panic here and assured me that the gap would come down as the course got tougher.

At the top of Fetterlocks for the first time, with around 10 miles of racing to go, the leaders ‘ advantage was down to under 3 minutes and, thankfully, Craig’s prediction was correct. Craig put in a turn over the climb and over the finishing climb and I’m sure this ate further into the lead.

Contrary to my previous aggressive racing tactics, today was a cagey affair. I kept close to Adrian and Phil but had no need to attack them. I saved my strength for when the likely attacks against me would come.

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As we started the last lap Craig came to see how I was. He was keen to try and take the stage win but needed to go in pursuit of the escapees. I told him to go for it! I knew my job was simply to prevent Adrian and Phil putting any time into me and felt confident I could do so!

After Craig attacked, and feeling pretty good myself, I toyed with the idea of jumping across to him and seeing if we could get clear together. However, as soon as I upped the pace slightly on a climb Adrian was straight on my wheel so I sat back and reverted to the original plan. Sit on and be attentive!

Fortunately for me, Si Bridge was in our small group and seemed content to do most of the pulling to the climb of Fetterlocks. Adrian didn’t move from my back wheel. As we started the climb I stayed near the front ready to respond to any attacks.

Sure enough Adrian launched a couple of attacks but I was able to respond straight away! We did manage to get clear of what was left of the group though, including Phil, so ‘all’ I had to do now was sit on Adrian’s wheel and hope he didn’t put 13 seconds into me on the final climb.

I stayed glued to Adrian’s wheel until the finish line was in sight and then managed to sprint past him and managed to stay in front of him until the line just to make sure! A couple of minutes earlier Tony had taken the stage win. He attacked at the bottom of the lastclimb and soloed to a fine victory.

Here is my strava file for the race https://www.strava.com/activities/1555362017

Here is the final stage result and overall classification…

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It had been a great weekend for the team and we dominated the race. Craig took the victory on stage 1, was 3rd on stage 3 and 7th on stage 4. Unfortunately, he didn’t hold onto the KOM prize as one of the riders in the break took full points on every climb on the last day. He also won the prize for 1st ‘A’ category rider.

Tony had won the final stage, finished 5th on stage 3 and finished 2nd A category.

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I’d had a good weekend too! 2nd on stages 1 & 2, winner of stage 3 and the Ramin Minovi Memorial trophy and overall winner. For me winning was also something of a relief. Karen had told me that I’d better win after leaving her on her own over the hottest bank holiday for years!

John had a quiet weekend by comparison (this was his first race of the year) but he looked after me on the final stage making sure I didn’t have to close any gaps early on and kept me out of the wind (as much as his diminutive frame would allow!)

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I will end by saying a massive thank you to the organiser Mike Amery and his army of helpers who put on a superb event! I’m certain we’ll be back next year and there’ll be even more eligible Chronomaster riders as a few more pass the big 4 0!

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Can we get another name on the Trophy?

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

TLI Dave Astles Cheshire Series Round 2 – Report

By Kris Zentek.

This is the first time I have raced this series. I’m really honoured to do so too, because Dave was a bit of a mentor to me when I first started out cycling, and to ride in a race with his name brings back a lot of fond memories of getting lost in the Cheshire lanes on sunny summer weekends 🙂

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Last week, I was marshalling. It was miserable, cold and wet. I had 3 layers on and a brolly and I was still suffering. God only knows how the riders felt. Happily, tonight the rain had abated but the wind was out in all it’s glory.

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Course – Siddington circuit – 2.5 laps, about 30 miles in total. Same course that I rode the TLI nationals last year an won my Jersey, which I was racing in for the first time. After the briefing we set off at 6:45pm. TLI is age categorised racing, and so we were split into three groups staggered by 5 minute gaps. I was with the young guns…(S)eniors, (M)asters and (A)…40-44.

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After being neutralised the attacks started. It seemed a few riders were marked…Will Corden (Seniors national champ), Ben Trotter and Chris Quin – both of whom rode to victory the weekend before in a two man break. When they went, everyone chased. So I tried to use this to my advantage. For 1/2 lap, there were multiple attempts to get away but nothing was sticking. We rolled through for lap two of three.

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Will and a couple of others had a bit of a gap, Chris as reeling them in. As we made the Left turn off the A34, it came back together. As the break split left and right to be reabsorbed I took my chance, going straight through the middle of them, and I got the gap I was looking for. After 1/2 lap of near constant chasing, no-one was chasing me.

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Except Ben. He bridged across, and we were off. We started pulling turns of 20-30 seconds, and soon we were out of sight. As we rolled toward Lower Withington we were joined by Paul Lally from Onimpex Bioracer who had made the bridge. But after a few turns it was obvious that Paul was suffering, and once we got onto the back end of the circuit into the headwind, he faded and lost touch.

Ben was on his wheel and had to pull a big turn to get back to mine…I eased up and let him get back on, and pulled a few bigger turns to let him recover a bit. As we hit the left turn into Smithy Lane, Ben lost my wheel again, and was struggling. I decided to press on not willing to let the bunch catch me, and so I was on my own, and rolled through the start/finish line solo to the sound of the bell.

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I had no time gap, but I could not see any sign of the race behind me. The only indication of time I had was a bike marshall stopping to let me through, so I knew I had at least 30 seconds. If he came back past me, I’d know it was back under 30 seconds. That never happened.

The last lap was just painful. I was fully committed and just kept turning the pedals. Giantswood Lane was the worst part…rolling, lots of drags and a full on headwind to deal with. I just focussed on getting to Smithy Lane again, onto the A34, and as long as the bunch were still out of sight I knew I’d be OK.

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Turning onto the A34,  the marshalls let cars go through behind me. The bunch were not coming through 🙂 But I kept the pace up to the finish just to be sure. I crossed the line with about a minutes gap (I think) on Will Corden who attacked onto the A34, and took second place with a great solo attack. The rest of the race followed a short while later in a bunch sprint for third.

Final Results

  1. Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster   (A)
  2. Will Corden – VeloRunner   (S)
  3. Andrew Disley – Team KTM UK   (M)
  4. Paul Gibson – Warrington Road Club   (A)
  5. Chris Quin – Onimpex Bioracer RT   (A)
  6. Jonathan Carnall – Macclesfield Wheelers CC   (M)
  7. Mark Hassall – Surface Design Racing   (A)
  8. Ben Trotter – Macclesfield Wheelers CC   (M)
  9. Brian Turrall – Team Wheelguru   (M)
  10. Sam Beeston – Pro Vision Race Team   (S)

Full results and more photo’s are available at the Cheshire Series website.

So…I got my first win of the season, and I’m really happy that I did it in my nationals kit.

As I had ridden to work that day, and from work straight to the race, I now had to ride 15 miles home. real lack of foresight there! It was getting dark too, so by the time I got home my legs were well and truly battered…

I’d like to finish off by saying a big thank you to the race organisers for another successful event. Thanks to all of the marshals, lead cards and motorbike outriders for keeping us all safe and sound on the busy main roads. And finally, thank you to Ken from Surface Design Racing for the fantastic photo’s he allowed me to use in this report. And thank you to Jon White for the excellent finish line video!

Looking forward to next week, which is gonna be really interesting racing…

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ERRL St Ives CC Road Race – Report

By Joe Bowers.

Due to an unfortunate lack of E12 races in the North West in April Jon and I were searching further afield for races to do. We came across the St Ives Spring Road Race, a 130km Nat B on a rolling course, and thought it was worth a shot. However it wasn’t until the night before the race we realised just how far away it was!

The alarm went off at 04:30 and for Jon, who was giving me a lift, it was even earlier. We got in the car and headed South for 3 hours until we reached the HQ near Huntingdon. As we travelled the weather seemed to get progressively worse until, by the time we got to the HQ, it was raining constantly. Fairly unenthusiastically we started to get ready to race. I had my usual dilemma of what do I wear? I opted for my skinsuit but wearing my gilet underneath with knee and arm warmers.

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We rolled out just after 09:00 onto the rain-soaked course and after a short neutral section racing was underway. It was soaking; standing water all over the road, zero braking on carbon rims and a constant spray of water from wheels in front meaning you could barely see. Towards the end of the first lap a small break went up the road followed by a chasing group of 4 or 5 riders. Knowing the conditions and how attritional the racing was likely to be today I thought that these moves were pretty dangerous especially seeing as they contained a couple of our pre-race favourites (Rhys Howells – RCC and Arlen – HJL). I moved up and jumped off the front just after a short climb. At first the going was good I began to close the gap on the chasing group and thought I was going to make it. However! I started to get bogged down and the groups ahead merged and began working together. As my heart rate climbed into the 190’s I figured 8 or 9 vs 1 was never going to work and although I was a matter of a few tens of meters off the back of the leading group I sat up.

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Frustrated, feeling I’d missed the winning move and a shot at the top 10, I was reabsorbed by the peloton. I sat at the back in a bit of a sulk for a while and had a caffeine gel to perk me up. I exchanged a few words with Jon and we agreed to sit in the bunch for a bit and just see how the race panned out. At this point we figured there was over 2.5 hours left to race so no point burning too many matches. After about 1h45 of racing the bunch pretty much had stopped chasing the break and their gap went up. It was at this point in a brief lull when Jon and another rider popped off the front. They hovered around 15-20 seconds off the front and I surmised given the wind and conditions a group of two would get pulled back. Not wanting to chase Jon down I loitered near the front of the peloton waiting for a counterattack to launch – it did, 3 riders went including Andy Nichols from B38, and I jumped on the back.

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We soon joined Jon up the road making a reasonable size group. I went straight through and said something about being f’ing cold and said we should ride to stay warm! So we did. Over the next hour or so we worked together and built a decent gap (around 5 mins by the end of the race) over the peloton. During this time we dropped a couple of riders and gained a couple of riders who’d been shelled from the leading break. Going into the final 2 laps we could see the leading break, it looked like it had split into a 3 and a 3. We caught the first group of leaving just the three leaders up the road. I was buoyed by this seeing as we’d turned a bad situation into a top 10 position for Jon and I as a minimum.

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Going into the final lap there were a few attacks. Andy Nichols went on one of the small hills but was brought back and there were a few digs including some from Jon on the final flat section of road leading the to finishing climb and straight. At this point I probably should’ve had a dig, but my legs felt pretty wrecked and I had twinges of cramp behind my left knee. I if I attacked now and got caught I’d probably get dropped on the final climb. Looking around at the group I thought I would probably be able to outsprint most of them. So I sat on the back and tried to stay inconspicuous.

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I clung on up the final climb and psyched myself for the sprint. At the 90 degree right hander leading onto the finishing straight a Flamme Rouge rider attacked our group and tried to go long for the line – he succeeded and took 4th. In hindsight I should’ve gone with him as there was a nice tailwind to help up. However I sat on the back. With 200m to go the sprint kicked off and I surfed a wheel or two and came round everyone taking 5th. Jon rolled in 10th after doing some great work and making people in the last lap. Jon’s earned some brownie points for that so I’ll have to help him out in the future when he calls for it.

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Finally congratulations to Arlen on the win and gaining his elite licence in the process! Thanks to St Ives CC for organising. It’s a shame ERRL is so far away as we would be down for more.

Superb photos provided by Sarah Kelman
https://www.flickr.com/photos/glidergoth/sets/72157693107076412/

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Southport CC Bickerstaffe Road Race – Report

By Kris Zentek.

Back we go to Bickerstaffe. Same HQ, different course (and it’s a Saturday, which confused my wife no end). This time, it was the erm…Bickerstaffe circuit – 12 laps of a 3ish mile loop where the only real ‘features’ were two left turns, and the minefield of Lancashires finest dumped all over the road by the local farmers. Other than that, it’s fast and flat.

The race today is a 2/3/4 cat, and because it’s short, it qualifies as a Band 4. So not many points up for grabs. We have 5 from the team turning up today…Craig, Ste, Si, Tony and myself. There are other teams well represented too. So it could be a tactical race, or it could just be a smash fest. Either way, we have some strong riders here, and expect to come away with a result.

As we all warmed up, we complained about the cold weather, we complained about our aches and pains, and we debated whether black bar tape or white bar tape was more pro. No tactics were formulated, but we rolled off at 9am content that we had at least agreed that saddle colour must always match bar tape colour…as long as it’s white.

Onto the race…

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People attacked. People chased. People brought it back.

I attack. Nope…this break is not working. Back to the bunch.

Ste attacks. Got a gap with a small group. People bridge. Bigger group.

Si and Tony bridge. Bigger group. I say to Craig “That’s the break”. We float to the front and start collecting tickets.

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Big group off the front…so people want to join. Craig and I follow and close the moves.

Meanwhile in the break, three Chrono boys are expected to do all the pulling. Not happening. Combine this with the attacky bunch behind, they get reeled in.

Now we are into lap 7.

Craig is first wheel, I’m about 5th wheel. Craig makes contact with the group on the rise at the back of  the course, headwind. Perfect. I attack over the top.

Got a gap, keep pressing on.

Bigger gap. Make the turn to the descent. Someone from Bioracer is bridging, bunch is also chasing. Too risky to wait, so I press harder. Chase stops. Gap increases.

1/2 lap later, Someone from Bioracer is bridging again. This time they are closer, and the bunch is further behind. Good. I’ll ease off and wait. It’s Mike Ashurst. Good – he’s strong and will work. Shit – he’s strong and will try to win.

Two more bridging. Bunch still way back. Guy in all black, I’m hoping it’s number 60 Chris Booth. It is – excellent – strong as an ox, and another hard worker. He’s got a guy from Crimson, Matt Hallam, with him. They make contact, and we start to work.

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Through & off wasn’t working well with just 4, so I call 20 second turns. Better. Pace is higher now.

Laps tick by. Matt starts to miss the odd turn. He’s suffering, we all gee him up and he starts to roll through again, but it’s clear he’s not having a good day. He does a turn where he can. At some point later he concedes 4th place, and we let him sit in.

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3 laps to go Chris launches for the last Prime. We let him take it, keen not to disrupt the flow. As we hit the descent, I see Si rolling back the other way. Punctured. Bad luck Si…

2 laps to go, Chris launches an attack up the rise. He gets a few seconds on us. Mike and I pull him back just as we reach the descent, each burning a few matches in the process. It hurts, but we are back together.

We roll past the bell for the last lap. The bunch are still in sight…maybe 15 seconds. We keep working hard, each putting in big turns.

As we approach the last left hander into the finish straight, the bunch are now out of sight. They must be messing about. good.

In typical fashion, I’m on the front. I try to slow them into the turn and try to sprint round it. Doesn’t work, they are still with me.

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200m to go, Chris attacks. Mike follows. I give it everything to get on his wheel.

100m to go, Mike is out of the saddle and goes past Chris. I’m still on his wheel, but I can’t get past him.

Mike takes the win by a bike length from me, I take second place, half a wheel in front of Chris. Matt rolls in a few seconds later for 4th.

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The bunch sprint is a few seconds behind him, and Tony takes a place in the top 10. The rest of the team did a great job setting things up for me to get away, and did an even better job shepherding the bunch to allow us to stay away.

We don’t need race tactics 🙂

So, it’s another second place for me, and more points for the team, but I feel disappointed yet again to not come away with the win. It’s one of my season goals.

Final results

  1. Michael Ashurst – Onimpex Bioracer RT
  2. Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster
  3. Christopher Booth
  4. Matt Hallam – Crimson Performance Race Team
  5. tbc…

Thanks to the Organisers and helpers at Southport CC for putting on another great event. Thanks as always to the NEG outriders, lead cars, first aiders and all of the marshals who kept us safe on the roads during the race. And finally, thanks to Ellen Isherwood for being there to capture those memories in still frame for us to use!

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Danum Trophy Road Race

By Jon Fowles

Last Sunday I raced at the Danum Trophy, near Doncaster. This would be the 4th time I’ve participated in the race, and it’s a circuit that I enjoy. There’s a punchy climb half way around the lap, and an exposed windy section approaching the finish line, just enough to split the race up. However, this year I’d done the Oakenclough road race the previous day and absolutely rinsed myself to come 10th in a strong field. As usual, the start sheet at Danum was scattered with some of the best domestic professionals in the North West. This would not make for an easy race!

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Cruising around before the race (trying to warm up in the freezing conditions), my legs felt ruined from the effort the day before. I was near the back of the pack as the race rolled out of the HQ along the neutralised section, hoping that my legs would find themselves. The race lit up going into the bottom of the climb for the first time, and I felt like I was in trouble, so did others by the looks of things. The race was strung out and gaps opening up everywhere. Luckily as we began the cross wind section, the race died down a little and I had some time to breath and think about moving to a safer part of the peleton.

By the time we approached the climb for the second time I was mid pack, and as the majority of riders slowed down for the grind up the climb, I was able to nip around the outside and secure a position at the front end of the peleton. We completed the fast section after the climb and I found myself at the front taking the slow left hand bend before an incline preceding the windy section.

 

I put a little bit of effort in, and found myself with a gap to the peleton… then pushed on a little more. Soon I found myself alone in the cross wind, but with the gap behind me opening up, not entirely what I had planned! Regardless, I had to push on and not admit that this was probably a terrible idea. VERY fortunately, Josh Hunt (Vitus Pro Cycling) bridged across the gap to me and the pair of us started working well together (we know each other from training/racing previously which always helps). On the second lap one of the motorbikes told us that we had about 30 seconds to a chasing group of 5 riders…. it seemed like the race had completely exploded behind.

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The 5 chasing riders caught us, and we were pleased to see that it contained most of the top riders in the race, including Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis), Connor Swift  (Madison Genesis) amongst others. This was a strong group and we worked hard for about a couple of laps. Matt was keen to keep pushing on to open the gap, although my legs were feeling the effort I helped as much as I could.

Despite all our hard work a large group of riders managed to catch us, and we formed a group of about 15 riders. This break contained pretty much all the favourites and in most cases multiple riders from each team. With this many riders it was easy for riders to hide at the back and save their legs, the work ethic of the group diminished and I didn’t have the legs to keep driving on. I also didn’t have the legs when the inevitable would happen and the favourites would attack.

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The logical (stupid?) thing to do is therefore attack a group full of top hitters, and this is what I did. Approaching the climb with about 2 laps remaining (it’s all a blur around here) I was on Joe Evan’s (Saint Piran) wheel. He started putting in an effort to hit the climb, this was our chance, and we managed to get a gap and push over the top. There must have been some confusion behind because our gap was increasing, and riders were trying to bridge across. Once again we were joined by Josh Hunt and Matt Holmes, as well as Ed Hopper, Adam Kenway (also Vitus Pro Cycling) and Keiran Savage. My legs were destroyed but I knew we could make it to the finish, after missing a few turns I joined the effort to press on.

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One of the motorbikes gave us regular time checks and 5 riders were chasing, but our gap was extending, and as we crossed the line to start the final lap it was time to start thinking of the win. Nobody seemed to be sandbagging too much as we approached the climb, but suddenly Matt attacked into the bottom with Adam on his wheel. I was lucky to be on Adam’s wheel but both of us were gapped. Matt had a significant advantage at the top of the climb, and that was about the last we saw of him. I rejoined the 4 other riders and with Adam in our sights we tried to chase him with everything we had.

Unfortunately everything we had clearly wasn’t enough, as his gap extended even as we hit the cross wind section approaching the finish line. With about 500m to go it was obvious that we were going to have to battle for 3rd. Ed went long, and I stood up to jump onto the back of this sprint to immediately find my legs were toast. My sprinting prowess gaining me 7th place (i.e last from the break). Matt took a strong win with Adam second and Ed third.

Considering how my legs felt at the start of the race, and to be racing against some of the best domestic riders in the country, I was happy. Now I’m keen for more!!

Thanks to the Danum Trophy race organiser, Martin Maltby

Thanks to our sponsors, Leisure Lakes Bikes, Specialized Bicycles, OTE, Pearson Ferrier, Chronomaster Wristwatches

Fantastic photos by Alex Reed

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